Self-control is the topic of the feature article of the May 2017 edition of Christianity Today (CT).
Bradley Wright, the article’s author, points out that self-control is key to Christian living.
Self-control is also one of twenty-four character “strengths”, identified in a landmark study foundational to the field of positive psychology, as traits and qualities that are best about human beings.
Wright shares the results of a large-scale study of self-control and spirituality that he and several colleagues conducted through SoulPulse.org.
His study found that active Christians score higher in self-control than people with no religious affiliation. Wright notes,
“Because Christianity requires self-control it logically follows that it also builds it, and thus we can expect active Christians to have relatively high levels of self-control.”
It’s interesting that takers of the Faithful Brain Institute’s Character Strengths Survey, most of whom self-identified as Christians, rated self-control on average as the least expressed character strength in their lives.
Wright offers four strategies for building self-control:
1) being aware of our capacity for self-control throughout the day;
2) getting quality sleep and good nutrition;
3) strategically managing our daily allocation of self-control; and finally and perhaps the most powerful strategy
4) using the brain’s capacity to change (neuroplasticity) to make self-control second nature through intentionally and repeatedly exercising it.
It would seem that Christianity and positive psychology are allies in at least this regard, they both help people express the character strengths needed to thrive.